A digital certificate is an electronic document that establishes your credentials when doing business or other transactions on the web. They are issued by a certificate authority and contain a user's name, expiration dates, a copy of the certificate holder's public key and the digital signature of the certificate-issuing authority so that a recipient can verify that the certificate is real. Some digital certificates conform to a standard such as X.509.
Digital certificates are digital files that certify the identity of an individual or instruction seeking access to computer-based information. It links the identifier of an individual or institution to a digital public key. Minimum certificate contents for the X.509 version 3 standard format include the version format, the serial number of the certificate from the issuer, the signature algorithm identifier for the certificate issuer's signature, the issuer's X.500 name of entity, and the validity period of the certificate. Additional information for certificates identifying an individual or other entity includes an identifying name or number and a public key of the individual or entity. Certificate Authority is the entity that provides all of the services to issue, store, manage, and revoke certificates.
A digital certificate is sometimes referred to as an â€˜electronic signatureâ€(tm). Digital certificates are issued by an organisation to identify an individual. The organisation then knows that an electronic instruction, such as a payment, has been generated and sent by the known (bona fide) individual â€“ who may be operating on behalf of a known company. A digital certificate is a piece of technology that will reside on the identified individualâ€(tm)s computer system. It is used to communicate with the organisation. For use over the internet, digital certificates can be browser based (virtual) or token based (physical), such as a smartcard or card reader.